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Basic Worldview:
102 Atheism vs. Theism

Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2

Prelude: "Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Atheism: Introduction and Charges
Charge 1, Deduction and Induction
Charge 2, Question 1
Charge 2, Questions 2 and 3
Charge 2, Summary and Question 4
Charges 3 and 4, Definitions
Empirical Evidence
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Occam's Razor and Conclusions
Footnote 1
Footnote 2 and 3
Proof of Life
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Scientists: Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Atheisms Circle of Reasons
Is God a White Crow?


6) He undertook experiments designed to find out how lightning--reproduced by repeated electric discharges--might have affected the primitive earth atmosphere, which Urey believed to be a mixture of hydrogen, methane, ammonia and water vapor. - American Scientist article

NOTE: In the famous Miller experiment described in this quote, Miller made certain assumptions about the contents of the atmosphere. These assumptions are now admitted to have been inaccurate, as the following quote explicitly states.

7) Although the primitive atmosphere is no longer believed to be as rich in hydrogen as once thought by Urey, the discovery that the Murchison meteorite contains the same amino acids obtained by Miller, and even in the same relative proportions, suggests strongly that his results are relevant.- American Scientist article

NOTE: Despite the inaccuracy of Miller's experimental conditions, his experiment is still considered relevant as support for the hypothesis that life can come from unintelligent forces, including the hypothesis that life came from outer space. This despite the fact that Miller's experiment was designed to mimic the atmosphere of primitive earth, not outer space.

8) But it seems very likely that the first building blocks of nascent life were provided by amino acids and other small organic molecules such as are known to form readily in the laboratory and on celestial bodies. - American Scientist article

NOTE: Again, in speaking of "likelihood" rather than "matter of fact" language, the author is admitting to the speculative nature of this assertion. Once again, no evidence is offered in support of this claim.

9) The other possibility is that one of these molecules could itself perform multiple functions. Theorists considering this possibility started to look seriously at RNA. For one thing, the molecule's ubiquity in modern cells suggests that it is a very ancient molecule. - American Scientist article

NOTE: Again, in speaking of "possibility" rather than "matter of fact" language, the author is admitting to the speculative nature of this assertion. Once again, no evidence is offered in support of this claim. In fact, this speculation is necessitated by a need to solve the chicken and egg dilemma. No evidence is offered to support this "possibility."

10) In 1986, Harvard chemist Walter Gilbert coined the term "RNA world" to designate a hypothetical stage in the development of life in which "RNA molecules and cofactors [were] a sufficient set of enzymes to carry out all the chemical reactions necessary for the first cellular structures." Today it is almost a matter of dogma that the evolution of life did include a phase where RNA was the predominant biological macromolecule. - American Scientist article

NOTE: At this point in the article it is clear that the author's purpose is to merely speculate as to the chain of events that might have occurred prior to the arrival of modern RNA, DNA, and proteins without offering any evidence that would substantiate such speculation.

The next quote is rather lengthy. It describes in more detail a series of speculative leaps necessary to explain the origination of primitive RNA.

11) As certain as many people are that the RNA world was a crucial phase in life's evolution, it cannot have been the first. Some form of abiotic chemistry must have existed before RNA came on the scene. For the purpose of this discussion, I shall call that earlier phase "protometabolism" to designate the set of unknown chemical reactions that generated the RNA world and sustained it throughout its existence (as opposed to metabolism--the set of reactions, catalyzed by protein enzymes, that support all living organisms today). By definition, protometabolism (which could have developed with time) was in charge until metabolism took over. Several stages may be distinguished in this transition.

In the first stage, a pathway had to develop that took raw organic material and turned it into RNA. The first building blocks of life had to be converted into the constituents of nucleotides, from which the nucleotides themselves had to be formed. From there, the nucleotides had to be strung together to produce the first RNA molecules. Efforts to reproduce these events in the laboratory have been only partly successful so far, which is understandable in view of the complexity of the chemistry involved. On the other hand, it is also surprising since these must have been sturdy reactions to sustain the RNA world for a long time. Contrary to what is sometimes intimated, the idea of a few RNA molecules coming together by some chance combination of circumstances and henceforth being reproduced and amplified by replication simply is not tenable. There could be no replication without a robust chemical underpinning continuing to provide the necessary materials and energy.

The development of RNA replication must have been the second stage in the evolution of the RNA world. The problem is not as simple as might appear at first glance. Attempts at engineering--with considerably more foresight and technical support than the prebiotic world could have enjoyed--an RNA molecule capable of catalyzing RNA replication have failed so far.

With the advent of RNA replication, Darwinian evolution was possible for the first time.
- American Scientist article

NOTE: In this series of paragraphs and the following series of paragraphs author lays out in some detail what he believes is a necessary chain of stages in the development of primitive RNA. The author's description is nothing more than his own unsubstantiated speculations as to what must have or might have happened for life to originate from unintelligent causes. He readily admits there is no evidence to support this hypothetical model and that attempts to verify these claims "have failed so far." Despite the fact that scientists have "failed so far" to substantiate these hypotheses experimentally, the author still concludes that success is inevitable and offers that inevitable success as evidence that Darwinian evolution is "for the first time" possible. It would seem that scientifically speaking, since these hypotheses have so far failed the experimental stage, Darwinian evolution is not yet possible.


September-October 1995
The Beginnings of Life on Earth
by Christian de Duve

First Cell
By Carl Zimmer